Hello! From the new SDA QLD leadership team

April 22, 2024 News

by Justin Power
State Secretary

At the end of 2023 the previous Branch Secretary Chris Gazenbeek was honoured to be offered a role as a Commissioner in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, which he accepted. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the SDA to thank Chris for his dedicated service to the SDA’s members and wish him all the best in this new role.

With Chris’s departure the SDA State Council asked me to take on the responsibility of Branch Secretary. I commenced the role on 20th December 2023.

We also have a new Assistant Secretary.  Tony Stapleton was the Queensland Branch Trainer and has been a long time employee of the SDA, and I have every confidence that Tony will excel in the role of Assistant Secretary.

More than 36 years ago I started work with a large retailer and joined the union. The other employees at my store were in the union and we had very few problems.

8 years later I changed retail companies but made sure to bring my SDA membership with me. There were a lot of problems at my new workplace so I put my hand up and became an SDA Shop Steward. Together with our Organiser we built the membership, and bit by bit, as membership grew, things improved. I learnt the important lesson that we are always stronger together and the difference legitimate trade unions make.

Several years later I started working for the SDA as an Organiser, first Organising Night Fill teams, and then the Northern half of the Gold Coast. I later took on the role of Branch Trainer and in 2014 I became the Assistant Secretary.

In those roles I have had the privilege to work closely with SDA members, SDA Shop Stewards and SDA Delegates across Queensland, whether it was negotiating Agreements for D.C. members, representing retail workers or educating young fast food members. I am particularly proud to have assisted our previous Secretary in achieving membership growth, 2 extra Public Holidays, improvements to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act and a host of other benefits for SDA members.

The SDA taught me that we are always stronger together and that is as true today as it was when I first started working in Retail.  When your workplace is well unionised you are more likely to know your rights, your rates of pay and where to go if something goes wrong. Problems are fixed sooner when you have a Shop Steward or Delegate and there is a real sense of community and looking out for each other in a well unionised SDA workplace.

We work together to make our workplaces safer, improve our members work/life balance in retail, fast food and in distribution centres, and have employees properly rewarded for the hard work they put into supporting their workplace and community.

This challenge remains as relevant today as ever. Amidst the cost of living crisis it will be our priority to:

  • Campaign for fair pay rises;
  • Bargain for 5 weeks annual leave;
  • Ensure safer workplaces including addressing the problem of excessive workloads.

All of this comes from a union that listens to its members and has a strong workplace focus. That is why very soon, Tony and I are visiting as many workplaces as we physically can in the coming months to say ‘G’day’ to as many members as possible and listen to what is important to you.

And we have the support of a strong team of Officials, Administrative Staff, Shop Stewards and Delegates. Together we will make the SDA Queensland Branch stronger. There is much work to be done and I very much look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.